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Celtics Looking for Home Dominance as they Host Wizards

(24-54) at (49-29)
Washington Wizards (24-54) at Boston Celtics (49-29)
Friday, April 9
7:30 PM
Game #79, Home Game #40
TV: CSN-NE, Comcast Sportsnet, NBA-LP 756
TD Garden

Game Thread l Chat

With only 3 games left after this one, time is running out for the Celtics to build any momentum going into the playoffs. The Celtics moved back into a tie with the Hawks for the 3rd seed in the East with their win over the Raptors. Those same Raptors, who have been depleted by injury, are playing in Atlanta on Friday and so the Celtics can't depend on a Hawks' loss and will need to win this game to stay in the 3rd spot.

This is the 4th and final meeting between these two teams. The Wizards bear little resemblance to the team that begin the season. Butler and Haywood are gone to Dallas for Howard, who is now on the injured list. Jamison is gone to Cleveland for nothing. And Arenas is in a halfway house somewhere.

The Celtics are healthy for the most part, although KG is still a step slow at times and Perk obviously is still suffering from the effects of the tendonitis that sidelined him for a couple of games. More than the physical problems for the Celtics, though, have been the mental lapses. They have to settle whatever issues they have as time is running out to build some momentum for the playoffs.

The Wizards are 3-7 in their last 10 games while the Celtics are not much better at 5-5 in their last ten. The Wizards are 10-29 on the road. The Celtics have struggled at home this season and are just 24-15 at the Garden. The Celtics can't take this Wizards team for granted because they have been playing well, having won 3 of their last 4 before a blowout loss to Orlando on Wednesday. The Celtics must dominate a team like the Wizards, a close win just won't do at this point of the season, especially at home.

Rajon Rondo/Ray Allen/Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett/Kendrick Perkins

Probable Starters
Shaun Livingston/Nick Young/Mike Miller/Andre Blatche/Fabricio Oberto

Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs Shaun Livingston
As in most games, the point guard matchup is key. Livingston has a big height advantage at 6'7" but Rondo has a big quickness advantage. Livingston has been playing very well since coming to the Wizards.

Kevin Garnett vs Andray Blatche
Blatche has been having his best season as a pro and with his quickness and athleticism, may give KG some problems. This will be a fun matchup to watch. In the last meeting between these two, KG got into Blatche's head a bit which resulted in Blatche calling KG washed up and a few unprintable things as well. KG got the last laugh as he held Blatche without a field goal for the final 6 minutes and the Celtics overcame a 13 point deficit to get the win.

Honorable Mention
Paul Pierce vs Mike Miller
Pierce needs to be aggressive and go to the basket early and often to exploit Miller's shortcomings on defense. Pierce will also have to defend Miller especially on the perimeter as he can get hot and put up a lot of points quickly.

Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense must be a priority for this team. They won't go far in the playoffs without playing lock down defense. They are running out of time to tune up that defense before the playoffs start. Allowing over 100 points as they have been doing in recent games just won't get it done.

Rebound - The Celtics are one of the worst rebounding teams in the league and because of that they give up way too many second chance points and fast breaks. They need to make a concerted effort to crash the boards.

Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics need to come out strong and not let up until the end. Celtics fans would love to see Gino again in this game and with an important game against the Bucks coming up on Saturday, it would be great to let the starters rest in the fourth quarter.

The Celtics have played down to opponents all season. They seem to lose their focus and let poor teams out hustle and out play them. With the playoffs on the horizon, the Celtics have got to get their focus right and give a consistent effort every game.

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